Oh, no! He’s doing it AGAIN!

Posted on November 16th, 2009, by DrShaler

(C) Rhoberta Shaler, PhD

42-15495677As a consultant to a major client, I’ve been working to massage, influence, educate, persuade and cajole a supervisor to grow into his role…and, quickly. He’s been in the role for a year and people are still making excuses for his being new. Because of his very specific, hard-to-find expertise, the company is willing to invest in the consulting and coaching necessary to discover whether or not he has the willingness, competence and ability to inhabit his position.

I’ve been working with the team: director, supervisor and team members, for two months and the lay of the land is well-established. I have had time to develop sufficient trust that the truth is sometimes even told!

So, imagine my surprise to receive a call from the Director saying:

“Oh, no! He’s doing it AGAIN!”

And, surprisingly…no, actually, shockingly…he IS doing it again. And, the “it” in this case is undertaking to do a task by a deadline, affirming that it would be done, then magically being sick on the day it is due with it, of course, undone. It’s not rocket science. We had been through this scenario with him twice before. My immediate questions for him:

What is it about “trustworthy” that you do not understand?

What is is about leading by example that you do not understand?

What is it about “you are not indispensable” that you do not understand?

In any economy, a rational person does not demonstrate a death wish repeatedly and expect not to be terminated. In the current economy, it seems rational to think that he would want to keep this job at this level. But no, here it goes again.

The consequences of this latest, blatant disregard for the needs of the Director need to be dire this time. The supervisor has previously been told that firing is an option. Now, the behavior repeats. My suggestion: the Director now puts the supervisor on notice of termination in ninety days if there is not a consistent change in behavior.

This is what I call the dreaded “FAILURE-TO-LEARN” syndrome. If it’s going on in your workplace, someone needs to step up and do something!

Rhoberta Shaler, PhD
Consultant. Mediator. Counselor. Coach. Catalyst.
…making it easier to have difficult conversations.

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Please leave a comment

  1. Jacquelyn Says:

    What amazes me is the company’s patience. How rare could his skills be?!

  2. Nora Femenia Says:

    Personal change is difficult and slow even when the person has a strong motivation to do it. Here in this case, there is external pressure to do changes and the individual might have a passive aggression streak which makes him promise to change, and then sabotage it.
    In this interaction:
    “What is it about “trustworthy” that you do not understand?’
    The focus is on: “you have to respond to others’ demands,” not in asking:
    “what is what you need in order to be able to comply with what we need from you?”
    Only digging in the hidden internal motivation to resist change, there is a bit of hope that the person will finally understand his needs, find another way of solving them, and understand better his role in the workplace.